Over the past several years I have been working primarily with system involved youth that present with a variety of different symptoms, but mostly a lot of symptoms related to exposure to trauma. I have decided to post a quick tip for anyone who does work with children who may be a little resistant to treatment or that you may be having difficulty connecting with. These strategies work for clients as well as our own children because they really get to the basic components of communication. I hope that both parents and clinicians will find this helpful.
There are times when a child/teen becomes resistant to treatment or interventions. This is often interpreted as defiance. Rolling with Resistance is a technique used to empower the child/teen’s voice, give them a sense of control and resolve situations without re-traumatizing the child/teen.
Motivational Interviewing tips for Rolling with Resistance
• Listen Reflectively – Respond to what the youth is saying by paraphrasing, summarizing or reflecting it back to them in a way which shows that you have heard what they are saying, even if you don’t agree with it.
• Develop discrepancy – Reflect back to them what they are saying by asking in a non-confrontational way how their views fit in with the wider goals that they have previously expressed. If there is an obvious discrepancy they can then see the dilemma and decide on their own solutions for addressing it.
• Ask the person what an alternative viewpoint might be – Once you have reflected back to the youth what they’re saying and what their viewpoint is you can ask them what they think someone might say who disagreed with them and what their thoughts are regarding the disagreement.
• Finally remember.... – Be patient! Change takes time. Sometimes it takes a day or two for the awareness and readiness for change after they have calmed down. You may be surprised by their reaction when you can allow them the time sit with their thoughts.